WWB WISE GURU Q&A: Featuring the International Best Seller ‘The Telomere Effect’: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer

Jun 2, 2017 by


Elissa Epel, Ph.D is a leading health psychologist who studies stress, aging, and obesity. She is the director of UCSF’s Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center and is associate director of the Center for Health and Community. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and serves on scientific advisory committees for the National Institutes of Health, and the Mind and Life Institute. She has received awards from Stanford University, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the American Psychological Association.


WWB FEATURED BOOK: The Telomere Effect  Groundbreaking book by the Nobel Prize Winner who discovered telomeres, telomerase, and their role in the aging process, and the psychologist who researched specific lifestyle habits to protect them and slow down disease and lengthen life.


WWB WORTHWHILE READ:  Have you wondered why some sixty-year-olds look and feel like forty-year-olds and why some forty-year-olds look and feel like sixty-year-olds? We discover through science, that aging is more than just an attitude. Healthy aging and longevity correlates with specific habits and mindset on a personal level, and is affected by the relationships, community and culture we are a part of.  All of which can be cultivated wisely.  Read this book and start lengthening your telomeres! ~TrulyHerself, Lauroly





Dr. Elissa Epel, Ph.D, Co-Author of ‘The Telomere Effect”



Lauroly Opening: Welcome Dr. Epel to World Wise Beauty. I am so pleased you could join me for this Q&A. This is an important book that will help accelerate wellness culture, and encourage us all to lead healthy lifestyles. It covers the latest scientific discovery about telomeres and your research on how we can protect our telomeres with as your sub-title says, “a revolutionary approach to living younger, healthier and longer.” Who doesn’t want that!  But first I have to ask a basic question for my readers, so we can move on to the important ideas in your book. What are telomeres? We have been learning so much about epigenetics in the last few years and now the discovery of ‘telomeres’ takes the science on genes to another level with real world context.


Dr. Epel: Telomeres are a tiny part of each cell in our body that play a critical role in how our cells age. They are the caps that protect the ends of chromosomes. They protect our genes from breaks and mutations, and they also allow our cells to go on dividing and replenishing. The problem is that each time our cells divide, the telomeres can shorten, and when they get too short, the DNA can easily become damaged, the cell becomes aged, and, worst of call, it cannot go on dividing. This creates a buildup of old tissue that is pro-inflammatory. Also, as we age, there is wear and tear to these caps, shortening and damaging them.

Lauroly Q- Your study and expertise is focused on how stress damages our telomeres on a cellular level, and the devastating effects it can have on our health and longevity if left unchecked or not managed. FYI for our readers, the book also presents all the positive ways you can stop the damage already done and avoid further damage. When all the research came out about epigenetics I think a lot of people just assumed they were stuck with their lottery of genes. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and this is where your important research comes in. All our lifestyle habits especially related to stress management can contribute to lengthening your telomeres or reducing them. It seems to me that popular quote “It is not what happens you to in life, but what you do with what happens to you” really applies to our telomeres! The fact is we can train our telomeres. One of the ways we can do this is keeping our immune system biologically young. Can you describe direct examples of this?

Dr. Epel: Laura, you said it well! We will all experience difficulties in our days, and traumatic events in our lives, and these cannot be avoided. But it is how we view these events in our mind, and manage them, that determines whether an event turns into ‘chronic stress’ in our mind or whether we may end up on the other side of the event even more resilient than before. So we need to focus not on stress ‘reduction’ but stress resilience. We tend to create angst, worry, and rumination with our habitual thought patterns and these can keep our endocrine and nervous system on ‘high’—a vigilant mode that wears us out sooner. Having higher levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and catecholamines, even while we sleep, is associated with shorter telomeres. High quality sleep is also related to longer telomeres, and something we can foster. The little things we do each day can add up to have big effects on telomeres.

People who tend to eat more vegetables tend to have longer telomeres ten years later! So we are talking about small little habits during our life that really add up to healthy cell stability later in life when we are typically so vulnerable to diseases of aging. People with longer telomeres are 20% less likely to develop heart disease. Even in young healthy adults, those with shorter telomeres, when experimentally exposed to the cold virus, tend to get more cold infections, with more severe symptoms, more tissues needed (the work of Sheldon Cohen). So it’s not just about doing things now so we don’t get disease of aging later. Experimental studies have shown that programs that last several months tend to give us a boost in telomerase or maintain our telomeres better –that includes aerobic fitness, omega-3 free fatty acid supplements, support groups, meditation programs, or Dean Ornish’s lifestyle integrative program (eg, vegetarian diet, yoga, social support).


Lauroly Q- When I read your book, it just solidified for me that lifestyle as medicine is really the ‘secret’ to wellness and longevity. We humans love the idea of ‘secrets’ but the truth is understanding our own bio-individuality and taking good care of ourselves wholistically is all it takes to live well. The blueprints may vary for each of us, but the reliable pillars of wellness hold for all of us.

Let’s come back to your expertise on stress. Managing our stress is extremely important, and it seems to me your tips and prescriptions for managing stress should be practiced by all of us, but some people have a biological sensitivity to stress more than others and can experience depression and anxiety in a very debilitating way if left unchecked. In your book you said “Anticipating a stressful event has the same effect on the brain as the body experiencing the stressful event.” We can see why mindful techniques and practices are so important to our society today. You devote a lot of data and tips on how to protect yourself from depression and anxiety. Some people may not be open to mindfulness techniques or feel they have the time, what are other lifestyle habits that can help protect us? Some would also ask “isn’t depression and anxiety a normal response to life and part of our human experience?”


Dr. Epel: We will have different traumatic events happen to us, and some of us will suffer more in life, and some of us are more prone to respond to stress with depression or anxiety. When adverse events happen to us as children, un-tempered by the support or resources we need to cope, it can leave a lasting ‘scar’ in the form of shorter telomeres. But that is not something to harp on, because even with short telomeres it’s how we live our day that can keep them stable through the years going forward. As you said, it is how we react to things, that can make a big difference going forward. We can learn to ‘surf the waves’ more than crash under them. We have habits of mind that we can become aware of. I include quizzes in our Telomere Book to help people see what their stress response style is – how much they see things as ego threats, or how much they ruminate. And also how much they have buffers to stress like optimism or purpose in life.

Awareness is a first step. Then there are ways to build our inner resources so we can experience stress as small surfable waves. For those interested, learning meditation can help but that does take time and dedication. Even if you don’t regularly do it, it can help you get to take an introduction course, to know your mind and the habits that can hurt you If you are unaware of them. Any mind-body activities can help with emotional balance. These are often ‘body up’ to mind—the calmness in the body creates a cushion of stress resilience so we don’t have those strong stress reactions. Having strong social support probably creates the biggest cushion. For me, my yoga ‘cushion’ helps me build reserve.

Even if you have short telomeres, what matters is how you live this day, and the choices you make each day from here on. Our telomerase, the anti-aging enzyme that protects telomeres, and our telomeres, appear sensitive to many different behaviors (exercise, certain nutrients) and exposures (nature, pollution, certain chemicals). We detail these in the book, and the best way to learn from the book is to choose one or two things from the list of telomere bolsters that matter most to you, that you know you can improve.


Lauroly Q- You made so many compelling points about how telomere science offers molecular proof of the importance of societal health (what I call wellness culture) to our well-being. You even suggested in the book that we call for policymakers to add a new phrase ‘Societal stress reduction’ to the vocabulary of public health. You included a Telomere Manifesto at the end of the book. Another (there are so many in this book!) important statement you made is “The foundation for a new understanding of health in our society is not about ‘me’ but ‘we’. Why do you think we miss how important inter-dependency is to our personal health as well as to the survival of our planet? I know that is a big question!


Dr. Epel: When we look at solutions to becoming a more compassionate society, arrows point to our culture and education. Our strong culture, and the way we raise and teach children, reinforce the idea we are autonomous and competitive creatures. There are programs starting at early ages that promote better understanding of interdependence, compassion, and of how our mind works that will help make a much needed shift in our culture. Change needs to come both from policy, societal stress reduction policies, and from inside — our minds, our hearts. Why don’t masses of people smoke anymore? It wasn’t just the tobacco tax and policies. It was a change in our beliefs and social norms. We can all start that right now, from within, and in our local networks. We impact those close to us, we impact strangers too. Let’s use our positive impact! If it helps to know that our very cell aging is impacted by our neighborhood’s health, then spread the word and work, to change these together.


Lauroly Closing:  Excellent answer Dr. Epel! Thank you so much for your groundbreaking research and writing ‘The Telomere Effect‘! It really is two books in one. One for creating a personal blueprint for longevity and wellness and the other for raising awareness about how we can stop the health crisis of the entire planet. The second one is even more urgent as we need a healthy planet to live on!

Dr. Epel Closing:  Thank you Laura for your wonderful summaries and sharing these messages.



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WWB Wise Guru Q&A Series: Newly Released Book ‘The Nature Fix’ Presents Cutting Edge Science on How Nature Affects our Health & Well-Being from a World Wise Perspective…

Mar 15, 2017 by

NatureFix_2 with frame.jpgWWB Wise Guru: Florence Williams is an American journalist and nonfiction author whose work focuses on the environment, health and science. She is a contributing editor at Outside magazine and a freelance writer for National Geographic, the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones, High Country News, O-Oprah, W., Bicycling and numerous other publications.

Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science and technology and the 2013 Audie in general nonfiction. The New York Times named it a notable book of 2012.

She was a Scripps Fellow at the Center of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. She is a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University. She serves on the board of nonprofit environmental magazine, High Country News.

WWB Featured Book: ‘The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative’ explores the science behind our connection to nature and proposes that for optimal well-being, regular doses of nature are not only recommended but required.


Lauroly Opening- I am so honored and pleased Florence Williams could join me for a Q&A. Her book is a favorite of mine, and so glad she wrote it. Perhaps it’s a favorite because it speaks to me on a very personal level. Nature has always been my fix, without a doubt. Having said this, I never classified myself as ‘Nature Girl’. I didn’t camp as a kid and I didn’t hike until my 20’s. But being outside and playing in nature was always a big part of my life experience. I can thank my Dad for that. I have this in common with the author! I only saw him on weekends growing up, and every weekend, weather permitted, we were either horseback riding in the woods, walking in the woods, or rowing a boat on a lake next to the woods. Those early experiences and the need to be outdoors has never left me. I like the term Florence used in the book, “drinking the tonic of nature.”I wrote a piece for this very blog on Nature Therapy in 2015 and briefly discussed ‘Forest Bathing’ in Japan which she covers quite extensively in the book. Later in my life, traveling for business, I would always make a point to find a Public Garden no matter where I was, so I could reconnect with nature and myself. Reading ‘The Nature Fix’ confirmed what I have had always felt intuitively about nature…I’m a part of it and it’s a part of me.

Besides my personal connection to the topic of your book, I found it to be the perfect non-fiction book. It is well researched, highly informative and very entertaining as well. I love how she takes us through the research via her own personal travel. Her travel takes us to Japan, Korea, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, and we learn a lot about their cultures and wellness philosophies. Florence packed so much into this book, I found myself really challenged about where to start. I remind myself that I do these Q&A’s to recommend books and motivate people to go and read the books. I hope to touch on some of the many important findings in this book…







Lauroly Q- Welcome Florence Williams! So if everyone hasn’t heard yet, nature is good for civilization!  What you set out to do is to find the science to support why nature is so important to our humanity and our everyday well-being. To do that we need to understand our senses and how much of how we function is synced with nature.  It seems to me that when we are out in nature we are fully alive, because many of our senses are engaged in our experience. This explains to me personally why I am generally happier when I am outside. There is an enlightening chapter where you focus on a man in Sweden who experienced a personal tragedy and later came to understand how important nature therapy is to patients with depression. Yet like everything else with humans, the dose of nature varies from human to human.  What do we know so far about nature as therapy? Tell us more…




flopromoBarrOutdoorFlorence Williams: Yes, Lauroly, you are exactly right that it does seem to be the full-sensory experience that awakens our sense of well-being, and that there are many studies that support this idea. But the science is still young, and many of the studies are very small. It’s actually quite difficult for scientists to tease apart exactly which elements of nature are most helpful or which senses are most engaged. I was struck by the studies in Japan, led by Japanese anthropologist Yoshifumi Miyazaki, that measured physiological changes to the nervous system after just 20 minutes of being in the woods. These studies showed a 20-minute stroll on a forest trail can reduce your blood pressure an average 11 percent and lower your cortisol hormones (a measure of stress) by six percent. Perhaps because of the practice of forest bathing in Japan, people there are attuned to using all their senses in the woods – so they’re really paying attention to what they’re smelling and feeling and hearing and seeing. It seems that shortcut to mindfulness really helps us feel calmer and relaxed more quickly when we’re out in nature.

Lauroly Q– Glad you started with Japan. We can’t discuss your book without talking about ‘ Shinren Yoku (Forest Bathing)’. What is it about the Japanese culture, that has them embracing Forest Bathing so fervently that it has become part of their national healthcare policy? When you asked Miyazaki why nature is so important to their culture, he had this to say, “In our culture, nature is part of our minds and bodies and philosophy. In our tradition, all things are relative to something else.” Loved his answer. But it is amazing how the Japanese ended up being so far removed from the very thing that defined them isn’t it?

Florence Williams: Japan industrialized very quickly. The cities grew fast and there was intense economic competition for good jobs, good schooling and feeding the corporate culture. People are stressed out there, and they work and study incredibly long hours, effectively removing them from a lot of time in the countryside. But it would be mistake to say that modern life has disconnected them from nature. The Japanese still internalize a close connection to plants, for example, in their practices of bonsai and flower arranging, in their tiny gardens and through their lens of wabi sabi, which celebrates the seasons and simple nature. I think in many ways the Japanese definition of nature is more generous that the western one, which looks at spaces like parks and wilderness areas, rather than integrating elements of the natural world into everyday life and homes. That said, the Japanese do seem to relish getting outside when they can. As a result of Miyazaki’s data, the country has designated 48 “forest therapy” trails where overworked, urban citizens are now urged to go unwind, and it looks like more trails are being created.

Lauroly Q- One of the things I was wondering about while reading about your research in Finland, is related to Vitamin D (sun) and the deprivation they experience in winter. Have any researchers looked at how tree therapy might counteract the negative effects of not having enough sun? This is a good time to tell us about why Cypress Trees seem to have such a positive effect on our senses. As you put it, in the book “we enjoy a neural bath of happy hormones”! Below is a quick video you created to illustrate the beneficial effects of nature…


Florence Williams: Trees are certainly magical and wonderful, and hit a lot of our happy buttons, from providing rich visuals, especially fractal patterns (known to promote alpha brainwaves) to creating habitat for birds that in turn relax us with their birdsong. The smell piece is fascinating, as tree aerosols from cypress trees in Japan were found to lower blood pressure and increase Killer T immune cells in humans. That said, even in Finland and even in winter, being outside provides more brightness and full-spectrum light than being inside, and so the light aspect is still important. Full spectrum light is linked to wellbeing, and vitamin D is linked to all sorts of good things, from shaping our retinas to strengthening our bones. The lumens outside is generally 10 times greater than the lumens inside, except of course at night. Even the darkness, though, can help reset our circadian rhythms so we sleep better.

Lauroly Q- As a psychology major I found a lot of the research on education, and brain disorders like ADHD fascinating with respect to nature. Besides the specific special needs of children on the spectrum, your book explores the idea that children in general really need nature and play. I loved the section on Friedrich Frobel and his research. He focused on cultivating curiosity and freedom in childhood. Tell us how ‘kindergarten’ was originally conceptualized, and how nature was at the center of child education…

Florence Williams: Friedrich Froebel, who was born in Germany in 1782, was an educator heavily influenced by Rousseau, who said, “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature.” Rousseau and Froebel both made a case for allowing young children to explore and learn based on their own curiosity. Froebel believed that an education filled with nature and art could instill a lifelong readiness to learn and also develop empathy and a love for living things. He really invented kindergarten, and it was nature-based from the beginning. Unfortunately, many cultures now consider kindergarten the new first-grade, and are taking children inside to sit at desks and learn their academics. We are not devoting enough time to considering what has been lost in this new model.

Lauroly Closing: I hope we don’t lose that model. Cultures change, but we don’t have to lose the wisdom that has already been acquired, especially when it comes to child development. Thank you Florence for joining me at World Wise Beauty, to discuss your important and wonderful book. I am going to make it my personal duty to share this book with everyone! I know they will love it and your research will resonate for them. I believe we are realizing nature is not a luxury but an absolute essential to our personal wellness, our humanity and our culture. See you out there Florence!

Florence Williams Closing: Thanks so much for your interest, Lauroly. It was so much fun reporting and writing this book, and it’s certainly made me spend more time outside. I will hope it will influence others as well.


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WWB Passioneer Library: Q&A With Author of: Life On Purpose–How Living For What Matters Most Changes Everything

Aug 26, 2016 by

053b_Life On Purpose cover


The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’

Excited to welcome back  one of my favorite experts, Dr. Vic Strecher.  He came to visit World Wise Beauty in 2015 to talk about his book ‘On Purpose’, which is a graphic novel telling a beautiful, fantasy-fueled, story of self-discovery and personal growth. His new book while not a graphic novel, covers the important topics of ‘purpose and meaning’ in more depth, and shows us how ‘purpose’ not only leads to self-fulfillment but to a better society. Not only is Dr. Stecher a professor and author, but he is also an inspiring entrepreneur who has taken his passion for health and well-being, and created new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. See his very impressive bio below and join me for a stimulating Q&A about his new book Life on Purpose, How Living For What Matters Most, Changes Everything.

Vic Strecher PhD MPH is a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. For over two decades Vic Strecher has been a leader and visionary in the fields of health and well-being, creating new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. A noted researcher and successful entrepreneur, Vic has cultivated a passion for connecting academic research to practical applications. In 1998, Vic created Health Media pioneering Web-based “digital health coaching.” The company set a new benchmark for scalable, lifestyle and condition management program delivery. Health Media was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008. In late 2014, Vic founded JOOL Health Inc. as a major paradigm shift in how individuals engage in the pursuit of well-being while offering organizations a more insightful means to support positive, healthy change. Vic and his work have recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, WIRED, the Chicago Tribute, and at TEDMED and TEDX events. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife Jeri.



Dr. Vic Strecher





Lauroly Q-Welcome back Vic! Let’s dig in. Just recently I had a conversation with someone who was feeling very depressed about the world in general. She was feeling disillusioned with not only politics but humanity in general. Giving her time and energy to many causes, she felt like giving up. Rather than lecture people, I always have a book up my sleeve to recommend. Guess what it was Vic? It was ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. That was a book I never forgot reading as a psychology major in college and always reminds me of mankind’s greatest gift which is the ability to choose and select our own meaning. You mention his work a lot and of course it makes sense because your passion is purpose. I love how you took your passion for philosophy and extracted amazing wisdom for us to think about.  I hope more people discover ‘works of philosophy’ who never studied it in college, through your book. Why do you think going back to the great philosophers is so important when it comes to finding our purpose? You admit in the book, that you didn’t have much interest in it as a young man.


Dr. Vic Strecher: True, I never felt an affinity with ancient philosophers until I needed them. Then, it felt like they were writing personal letters to me. If you want to read something thoroughly modern and useful, you might start with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, or better yet, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Then read a few of Seneca’s letters and essays. See if you don’t get hooked on these 2,000 year old philosophers as well! These writings were amazing for two reasons: (1) they were written by people who grew up in such different circumstances, yet had such relevant things to say about my own modern life, and (2) they push you to more carefully consider your existence, to not just run on automatic.

Lauroly Q-Thank you for sharing your great book recommendations. I love adding to my wisdom reading list! While you take us on this wonderful tour of philosophy, you also balance things with real world stories and examples of inspiring people finding their purpose. The most important one I feel is your own story. In sharing your touching and personal story, it makes me feel that you have truly connected the dots. Your wisdom was gained not just by research or study but by ‘getting through’ your own challenges and pain, and coming out of it with your own passionate purpose. My favorite quote is from Robert Frost “The Best Way Out is Always Through’. Can you share how you got through losing your nineteen year old daughter to life-long illness?


Dr. Vic Strecher: A few months after my daughter died I finally realized that, if I was going to survive, I’d need to think differently. It’s hard to think differently (at least for me) but two books really helped me: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open. These two books shoved me into a rabbit hole of new words and ideas. Words like, “ego,” “transcendence,” and “purpose.” But being a skeptical scientist, I’m always wondering whether these words and ideas have actually been tested. I was happily surprised to find that these ancient concepts have recently been studied by really good researchers. Over time, they’ve become subjects of my own research.

Lauroly Q- You discuss ‘personal agency’ in Chapter 2, and it’s a very important aspect of ‘finding and living your purpose’. Yet essentially the takeaway in your book is, we are all ultimately fulfilled from being ‘other focused’. I believe that’s why Viktor Frankl’s ideas and creation of ‘logo therapy’ is so profound. In this world, there are a lot of people worldwide experiencing strife and they don’t seem to have a sense of ‘personal agency’. They may find it quite difficult to find their purpose in a way that many self-help practitioners might suggest. Do you think like Maslow suggests, that we must first get past survival modes before we can be altruistic? I can answer my own question when I think of Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Teresa. It’s a great topic to explore with you, because there are many stories and examples of transcendence in your book I loved. Feel free to pick one…


Dr. Vic Strecher: I’m particularly drawn to the story of James Arinaitwe, who, as a boy in Uganda, lost his mother and father to AIDS by the time he was ten. He and his mother walked over 300 miles to the residential home of the President of Uganda to ask for an education. He’s now the co-founder and director of Teach for Uganda. He laughed when I suggested what many Westerners believe — that purpose is only a higher-order need. He said that “Families that break down are the ones who have no purpose or vision for the family. Purpose goes hand in hand with hope. In the West, people may not relate to this, but this is how we think. Purpose sustains poor people.”


Lauroly Q- I loved that story in your book. While purpose is your focus you really make the connection that wellness is key to our personal development. There are 5 wellness practices and rituals you explore in your book. Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity and Eating. How did creativity get on your top 5 list? I might add you really expand on the meaning and expression of creativity in your book.


Dr. Vic Strecher: Thank you for noticing! Creativity is one of my favorite subjects. It’s consistently ignored or at least de-emphasized in our schools and in our society as a whole, yet creativity is what will ultimately be needed to maintain our competitive edge in the world. I spent quite a bit of time understanding the way people conceptualize creativity. My favorite view is put forth by the psychologist Rollo May — that creativity requires courage — the courage to say that the status quo isn’t good enough and that there’s a better way. By the way, in our research, creativity and presence are the two leading predictors of energy and willpower, exceeding the impact of more traditional behaviors such as physical activity, eating behavior, or sleep.

Lauroly Closing: I could go on forever chatting with you about the ideas in your book, but this is a blog and most people will be better served reading your fantastic book for themselves. So this is my gift to the person I was recently talking to about hope and purpose. Your book is one I will no doubt recommend to anyone struggling with meaning, purpose and direction. Thank you for writing it Vic, and keep them coming. Your gift for communicating and emotionally connecting has so much to offer, especially in wellness culture.

Dr. Vic Strecher Closing: Thank you, Laura. I’ve so enjoyed your blog and your perspective and greatly appreciate your interest in this work!


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Mind Your Feet, Forks & Fingers for a “Disease-Proof” Life…Meet Dr. David L. Katz, Author,Wise Guru & Renown Specialist in Preventative Medicine

Nov 20, 2013 by

Featured Book: Disease-Proof –The Remarkable Truth about What Makes Us Well


Dr. Katz has been extensively involved in medical education. He was a founding director of one of the nation’s first combined residency training programs in Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine (Griffin Hospital, Derby, CT); and served as Director of Medical Studies in Public Health at the Yale University School of Medicine for a span of 8 years. He has been named one of America’s Top Physicians in Preventive Medicine three times by the Consumer’s Research Council of America, and serves as a judge of best diets for the annual ranking published by US News & World Report. In 2009, he was a widely supported nominee for the position U.S. Surgeon General. He was named one of the 25 most influential people in the lives of children by Children’s Health Magazine. Dr. Katz has an extensive media portfolio, having worked for ABC News/Good Morning America as an on-air contributor, a writer for the New York Times syndicate, and a columnist to O, the Oprah Magazine. Currently, he is a blogger/medical review board member for the Huffington Post, a health contributor to US News & World Report, one of the original 150 ‘thought leader’ Influencer bloggers for LinkedIn; and a health writer for Everyday Health. And now a Wise Guru at World Wise Beauty!

Lauroly Opening– Welcome Dr. Katz, I am honored to have you here to talk about you new book “Disease Proof” co-authored with Stacy Colino. You are now officially a “Wise Guru” at World Wise Beauty.  Some of our readers will be just becoming familiar with your work via your new book, but the fact is you have been on the cutting edge of Preventative Medicine for the last fifteen years. You have a number of accreditations after your name.  I just want to give our readers a little background on your extensive education and expertise.  MD –Medical Doctor, MPH -Masters in Public Health, FACPM -Fellow of the American College of Preventative Medicine and FACP -Fellow of the American College of Physicians (internist).

Phew! What an impressive portfolio of work! You have been busy Dr. Katz and we are so grateful you have been.  Before you became a sort of “celebrity” in wellness you were tenaciously working hard to influence your own peers in the medical field about how to “reframe” how they were looking at healthcare and their patient’s wellness. But now you are on a big mission to educate us because without our own self-care we will all face the many diseases plaguing our society today. Let’s start with your opening paragraph in Chapter One of your book “Disease Proof”.  You start out with a strong statement about how we don’t have a healthcare system but a “disease care system”. Share your thoughts with us on this and why it is so important for us as individuals to take charge of our own personal health.

Dr. David L. Katz



Dr. Katz: Getting good care when we’re sick is certainly very important. As a doctor, I fully appreciate the value of clinical care. But health and vitality are not built in hospitals or clinics. The behaviors and choices that prevent disease in the first place have little to do with doctors. The real power to build health from its origins resides with us as individuals in the way we live our lives. True ‘health’ care resides with us, not the medical establishment. Only we can truly care for our own health.



Lauroly Q- You emphasize in your book “Disease Proof” how important it is to develop “skills” to lead a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes it’s amazing to think we now have to practically go back to school to learn to eat healthy and wise. You state in your book “The goal is to use your feet, forks and fingers wisely for the sake of your health”. What does this mean and how do you think we lost our basic instincts and common sense when it comes to eating and taking care of ourselves?

Dr. Katz: The evidence is overwhelming that if we eat optimally, exercise, and avoid tobacco- along with a few other good choices- we can reduce our lifetime risk of all major chronic disease by an astounding 80%. So, how we use our feet, forks, and fingers turns out to be the most important control we have over our medical destiny. As for losing our way, actually- our way lost us. Our instincts and behaviors are all suited for a Stone Age world where calories are relatively hard to get, and physical activity is unavoidable. The traits and tendencies that fostered our survival in that world conspire against us in this one. So to get to health in the modern world requires a skill set most people simply don’t have. Disease Proof provides it.

Lauroly Q- With so many diets passionately touting themselves as the “the best diet with proven results”, how does an individual create an “ideal diet” that will not only help them lose weight but also foster wellness and longevity? Often there is conflicting information in the health field, for example between Vegan and Paleo diets. You can have a nutritionist, doctor and scientist recommend very different approaches to diet and health often with a “one size fits all” mission and studies to back their prescriptions. Which “school of thought” is really superior and how do we decide which diet is right for us?

Dr. Katz: The best school of thought here is the objective, evidence-based, and unbiased school. It’s hard to be objective about the ‘best’ diet when you are trying to sell one! I routinely review the diet literature without bias, and reach the conclusion that the basic theme of optimal eating for human health is very clear (real food, mostly plants), while there is no clear evidence of any clear winning variation on that theme. You can get to health with really good versions of Vegan, Paleo, or Mediterranean diets and other besides. But all such diets that are good for both losing weight and finding health are made up of wholesome foods in balanced combinations, avoiding highly processed foods and the liabilities that come with them. We lay out the relevant case quite clearly in Disease Proof. As for what ‘diet’ is right for you- stay on the theme, and choose what suits your preferences and lifestyle. We should all be able to love the food that loves us back.

Lauroly Q- I love your chapter on “Taste-Bud Rehab” and can totally understand the concept! It is funny how we become used to and sometimes addicted to flavors over time. I accidentally tasted my friend’s coffee one day which was filled with flavored coffee-mate stuff and I literally had to spit it out. My friend can’t drink coffee without it and yet it tasted awful to me because I don’t drink artificially sweetened beverages in general.  It seems everything is overly sweetened and salted? How do you withdraw from unhealthy foods when our entire food system is determined to sell us products loaded with sugar and salt?


Dr. David L.Katz

Dr. Katz: We have choices in every food category- and the opportunity to trade up. Trading up little by little is easy, but it can exert strong effects on diet quality when you’ve done it enough, and it does retrain your taste buds along the way. Instead of giving up foods you love, trading up foods you love leads to better health, better weight, and better nutrition- but without any heavy lifting. This is just the kind of actionable advantage “skillpower” provides over relying solely on willpower.


Lauroly Q –Your book is more than just a book about changing diet, it is really about changing our “mindset” about what it takes to be healthy and disease proof.  It’s almost like we have to de-program ourselves from bad habits we slowly developed over time in our society. It seems daunting when you have so many” rituals” entrenched in our culture, like having an extra- large popcorn drenched in artificial butter with a mega size soft drink at the movies. Where do you think we should begin? The Mayor of NYC tried to make a change by focusing on limiting the sizes of soda sold and this created a real back lash from people. Yet if you don’t start with consumer culture how do you break through and reach people?

Dr. Katz: I work to change culture and the environment. But culture begins under our own roof, within our families. We are in charge. We can all start by changing our own health and behavior for the better. Guess what? When enough individuals and families have changed- when enough of us have disease proofed ourselves- we will have changed our culture and the world into the bargain!

Lauroly Closing – Dr. Katz, I completely agree about the idea of “us” being the drivers of culture. What we say yes AND no to defines our lifestyle and culture. I am thrilled to feature your book “Disease Proof” and thank you so much again for joining me at World Wise Beauty. Disease Proof offers a wealth of common sense knowledge but I hope many people will refer to your book as a handy “tool-kit”, to help them develop healthy habits, so they can actively take charge of their own health and live a “disease proof” life into their old age. Sounds like a really good “bargain” to me!

To discover more of Dr. Katz’s published books visit his website here.

Truly Herself,

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Wise Guru & International Best Selling Author Tom Rath Has a Simple Call to Action For You…Eat Move Sleep

Oct 8, 2013 by


WWB Featured Book:  Eat Move Sleep–How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

WWB Wise Guru & Author: Tom Rath

Author Profile: Tom Rath is considered one of the most influential authors of the last decade, whose books and studies have focused on the role of human behavior in health, business, and economics.

Tom has written several international bestsellers, including the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket? In 2012, his book StrengthsFinder 2.0 was the top-selling nonfiction book worldwide. Rath’s most recent New York Times bestsellers are Strengths Based Leadership and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.

He also serves as a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup, where he previously spent 13 years leading the organization’s work on employee engagement, strengths, and well-being. Rath also served as vice chairman of the VHL cancer research organization. He earned degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now a guest lecturer. He and his wife, Ashley, and their two children live in Arlington, Virginia.

Welcome Tom to World Wise Beauty-  I am truly honored to have you join me here. I am honored because you are a well-respected author and scientist but I am truly honored because you are wise human being with a great spirit and voice. I don’t know if our readers will glean all this from just a short Q&A but I promise them if they read your books they will come to my same opinion. You begin your book with a very personal story about your own health issues and facing life threatening cancer at the age of sixteen. This traumatic event at such a young age must have impacted your life in a major way. Can you share a little about how your battle with a rare genetic cancer has shaped your attitude, lifestyle and habits?


Author Tom Rath


Tom Rath: Yes, I was born with a rare condition that causes rampant cancerous growth throughout the body. As a result of this genetic mutation, I have been battling cancer for over two decades now. This has led me to do a great deal of research on the topic of health in general. Over the last decade, most of my work is focused on helping others to think about what they can do to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other largely preventable conditions. One of the most important things I’ve learned from this research is that the best way to keep yourself from dwelling on what is beyond your control is to learn a little bit each day about what you can do to stay ahead of your health. This daily learning and knowledge not only helps my physical health, but gives me more mental energy as well.

Lauroly Q- In some ways your early hardship was a blessing in disguise. You are probably healthier than most people without cancer. My Mom is in the advanced stages of cancer right now and has lived several years beyond what doctors told her she would because she was very health conscious most of her adult life. I share this because your book is a call to action for everyone to take good care of themselves because little changes and regular good habits can insure a lifetime of good-health and ward off many diseases like diabetes and heart disease. And in your case and my Mom’s—even slow down the acceleration of cancer. The title of your book Eat, Move, Sleep is simple. How did you decide on this title and why did you choose to make healthy living sound so simple.

Tom Rath: Yes I did hope for this book to be a call to action. That is also related to how we chose the title Eat Move Sleep, as these are the three most essential elements that we all need to keep top of mind everyday. Perhaps most importantly, it is thinking of all three of these things in combination that matters most. If you do one of the three well, it makes the other two easier. At first, I might’ve thought that embarking on an exercise program and a new diet was doing too much at one time. But it turns out that it is better to work on multiple elements at once.

Lauroly Q- You have a chapter on “sugar” and you refer to it as the next nicotine of our time. You say this because it’s addictive but many people don’t really understand the real magnitude of sugar’s effects on the body. Rather than beating people over the head with scary lectures about sugar you highlight the very rapid and positive affects one experiences just by reducing your sugar intake a little. Tell us more…

Tom Rath: Personally, if there was only one thing I could reduce or eliminate from my diet I would start with sugar. After reading hundreds of articles and studies about the relationship between sugar consumption and disease, it is clear to me the increase in sugar intake is one of the major causes of the epidemic of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. One of the reasons we are so addicted to sugar is because having a little makes us crave more. This is a challenge but also an opportunity. I personally found that something as simple as eliminating added sugar from my coffee help me to have fewer cravings for sweet food and drinks later in the day. Making some of these little adjustments seems to work pretty well over time.

Lauroly Q- We can’t end this Q&A without talking about the very important subject of sleep. Living in a world hyped up on technology and keeping us constantly tuned in, we are losing our natural circadian rhythms, which many scientists believe we must maintain for good health and well-being. I loved your chapter called “Feast at Sunrise, Fast at Sunset”. Why is sleep so important to our health and what are the simple things we can we do to get more of it?

Tom Rath: I grew up with the mentality that sleep was the first thing you cut out of your routine if you needed to get more done. For most of my life, I treated sleep as an expense. However the more I studied this topic I realize that sleep is an investment that gives you more energy, allows you to be more productive, and so on. In terms of getting better sleep, in my own experience little adjustments like keeping the temperature a few degrees cooler in my bedroom, minimizing electrical light and device usage in the evening, and even something as simple as using a white noise app make a difference. Once you start to add up what I call the cumulative advantage from all these little changes, the result is better days.

Lauroly Closing- Thank you Tom for stopping by to share your wisdom and expertise on health and wellness based on your real life experience and scientific research.  Yes, you do have a great deal of research and studies behind you, but you are also sort of like a wise grandfather one always wants to take time to listen to. Perhaps this is because you had an amazing relationship with your own grandfather who was a huge positive influence on your life.  And maybe facing adversity and the concept of death early in life helped you to appreciate and value your life and health in a profound way. It all adds up. But one thing is for sure, we are lucky you have a wonderful gift for clear writing, communicating and sharing wisdom. Keep sharing…we are listening!

To learn more about Tom Rath and his other best-selling books, please visit www.tomrath.org.

Truly herself,

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